A crash course in changing the world.
Kenya is located on the East African coast and our estimated population is just over 40million. About 79% of this population lives in the rural areas. Of the urban dwellers, 60% live in informal settlements. Rural communities and informal settlers are usually the most affected when disaster strikes. Close to ½ of Kenyans living on less than US$1/day. Poverty increases the vulnerability of most people to minor hazards, turning them into humanitarian emergencies e.g flooding which occurs every rain season displacing 10s of thousands of people.
Over the years, Kenya has seen quite a number of hazards including drought, famine, food insecurity, floods, epidemics, landslides, deforestation, desertification, transport accidents, conflicts, pollution, structural failure, terrorism, fires etc. These disasters disrupt people’s livelihoods, destroy infrastructure, divert planned use of resources, interrupt economic activities and retard development.
I was fortunate to be part of a 5-person delegation to the US that included the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of State (the Ministry concerned with Disaster Management in Kenya). During this 10-day visit (between 5-15th April 2010), we discussed how technology can be used to build capacities in HIV/AIDS which was declared a national disaster in Kenya in 1999. I must admit that prior to this, I had little understanding of what it takes to manage disasters at national scale.
The Permanent Secretary was kind enough to share with me the details of Kenya’s National Disaster Response Plan which was formulated in 2008. This plan seeks to build the country's resilience to disasters by strengthening disaster preparedness in order to lessen the impact of the disasters. It is expected that Kenya’s 8 provinces and 264 districts will use this plan to develop and implement their own hazard specific plans. I must say I was very impressed by the content on the Ministry’s website which includes information on Nzoia Basin daily food watch, information on funds received for various disasters and disbursements reports, funds allocations to internally displaced persons etc. These may seem trivial but is a VERY significant step towards financial transparency in that Ministry.
Upon return to Kenya, I asked my colleagues if they were aware of this Kenya’s National Disaster Response Plan. Happily quite a few were but most (3/4) did not know the contents of the doc**ent. I therefore sent an email to my colleagues (1000+) sharing what I learnt about Kenya’s National Disaster Response Plan a full copy of which is available at: http://www.sprogrammes.go.ke, or http://www.noc.go.ke. Happy reading!